Q&A: I want to know what cord blood banking is.
My doctor gave me some reading materials on cord blood banking, but I'm still confused. What is it and should I do it?
Cord blood banking is a system of storing blood obtained from your baby’s umbilical cord after she’s been delivered. So why would you want to do this? Exciting research in the use of stem cells to treat various diseases encourages many doctors and parents to explore banking or saving cord blood. If your child develops a serious health condition warranting stem cell treatment (such as leukemia, sickle cell anemia, or other disorders), having saved cord blood ensures you’ll have a perfect match ready for use. (However, if the condition is genetic, the stem cells might contain the very thing that caused your child to become ill.) According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the likelihood that you will need to use the blood, ranges anywhere from one in 1,000 to one in 200,000.
There are currently two methods of saving, banking, or donating your child’s cord blood. The first way is through a public blood bank. This really is like giving blood to the Red Cross. You know you won’t get your own blood, but you give with the idea that it will help others and know that if you needed blood, you have access to this supply. The second way is through private cord blood banking. This is a for-profit business, and costs vary widely. So if you decide to do privately bank cord blood, you should do your homework. There is usually an initial storage and processing fee and then yearly fees. The blood is cryogenically stored and will be available should you need it.
In January of 2007, the AAP issued a position statement regarding their philosophy on cord blood banking. It states: “Cord blood stem cell banks can provide an invaluable service to those afflicted with leukemia and immune disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages families to donate their newborn’s cord blood, which is normally discarded at birth, to cord blood banks (if accessible in their area) for use by other individuals in need. Storing cord blood at private banks for later personal or family use as a general “insurance policy” is discouraged.”
If you do decide to pursue private cord blood banking, the AAP recommends you consider the following questions:
- Does the company bank for personal and family use?
- Institutional Review Board-approved protocols should be in place, including annual disclosure of the financial interest and potential conflicts of interest.
- Financial viability and stability of the company should be considered
- Physician should disclose any potential conflict of interest.
- Company should have an informed consent process in place and require the parent to sign an informed consent.
- Cord blood banks should comply with national accreditation standards developed by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission, and similar state agency.
The AAP also states that:
- Cord blood donation should be encouraged with the cord blood is stored in a bank for public use.
- Private cord blood banking should be encouraged when there is knowledge of a full sibling in the family with a medical condition (malignant or genetic) that could potentially benefit from cord blood transplantation.
- If banking for future personal or family use, parents should know that most conditions that might be helped by cord blood stem cells already exist in the infant’s cord blood and would not be used (such as premalignant changes in stem cells).
- Storing cord blood as “biological insurance” should be discouraged because there curre.